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Thinking About Happiness - PHI00108M

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Christian Piller
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module offers a philosophical investigation into the nature and significance of happiness. It also considers issues of happiness as they arise within psychology, sociology, and economics.

Professional requirements


Related modules


Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

  • To learn about happiness and its role in ethics and practical reasoning
  • To improve the skills of philosophical reasoning and argument
  • To engage constructively with the work of other students
  • To develop the skill of presenting material to a group
  • To gain an interdisciplinary perspective on an issue

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able to …

  • assess different accounts of happiness as we find them in the ancient and the utilitarian tradition as well as in contemporary philosophy

  • have a view about the role of happiness in their own lives

  • evaluate the role of happiness in ethics and public policy

  • discuss the contributions of other disciplines to philosophical theories of happiness

Module content

In this module, we will look at the following questions. What is the nature of happiness? What role does it play in practical thinking and in ethics? How is it best to be pursued? What is its relationship to well-being? Should happiness be the measure of public policy decisions? Can happiness be measured in a way that allows for interpersonal comparisons and aggregative judgements? We will be looking at contemporary sources from philosophy and from other disciplines as well as selected contributions from the history of philosophy (Aristotle, Epicurus, Bentham, Kant, Nietzsche) in our engagement with these issues.

Please note that every student on this module will be asked to give at least two up to 30-minute presentations.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

On formative week, within two weeks, and before the end of term.

On summative work, within 25 working days.

Indicative reading

  • Haybron, Daniel M. Happiness: A very short introduction. Vol. 360. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Layard, Richard. Happiness 2/e: Lessons From A New Science. Penguin UK, 2011.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.